Recently my twin sons attended a VBS in town presented by another local church. This particular VBS was all week long. On day 3 on of my sons followed his heart and in his words, “I became a Christian today!” That phrase and children and salvation is the topic for another article or blog. The VBS they attended was making a push for kids to accept Jesus and be Christians. My son raised his hand simply because they started with, “Who wants to be a missionary?” and he thinks that would be awesome to go and tell people about God, Jesus, and Spirit. Of course it ended with him being in a private room being told how to become a Christian. Did I mention he is 7? Unless I choose to ask I really cannot say if this is one of their “scoreboards.” So I won’t make that assumption, but nonetheless, it got me thinking, this is where keeping score goes wrong.
When keeping score starts to set the agenda for how you do your programs, events, or worship service, then that is a huge drawback and negative agenda. If attendance, baptisms, and/or giving begin to shape how or why we do what we do in churches we have allowed the tail to wag the dog. We must be careful to allow for things of the Spirit and God’s call for our churches to be the lead in what do and where we go.
I will also say that churches must be extremely careful when using a happiness measurement to lead us in our mission. There will be times in the life of a church when people are happy and when they are not. Trying to keep everyone happy all the time is a recipe for disaster. It is extremely important that we keep God’s heart and mission in front of our churches as our course of action.
One of the most dangerous things that churches can do is manipulate to achieve a desired outcome. Some use baptisms and salvations to keep score of their success as a church. When this is on your scorecard there is a great temptation to prey on the immaturity of children, the fears of adults, the needs of the marginalized, or the emotions of those in a difficult time. Keeping score can lead and I think has led to a foundation of fundamentalism. If you do this certain action then you will receive this certain result. And when you don’t do the required action to meet the certain church’s outcome, you have rejected the gospel.
Keeping score can backfire on people too. It can lead to unnecessary firings, premature changes in operation, or panic among leaders and members. Keeping score can drive you away from your mission if it seems it cannot be accomplished. We forget that God can do all things and sometimes He wants to do it without us. We begin to create an environment of chaos because we choose to continually change up things in order to achieve a certain number rather than patiently waiting for God to do His work. Good ministers lose their jobs simply because the student ministry attendance is down or preaching ministers lose their job because the truth wasn’t attractive and people quit coming back. Sometimes God’s mission for your church needs to be done regardless of the numbers. I think the story of Gideon makes this plain to us.
I could give example after example of how keeping score can dissuade us from His true mission. So again, the score whether high or low should never be the defining factor that directs the church.